Having clearly defined company values can help guide your employees in their day-to-day actions and decisions. But beyond listing the values—on your website and intranet, on breakroom posters and digital signage or wherever you display them—it’s important to give employees concrete examples of what it means to apply those values to various job roles and functions.
In a recent Forbes Communication Council article, I wrote about the importance of involving employees in the articulation of your company values. The next step is inviting employees to explain the values, in their own words, to their peers.
Just as shoppers are more likely to trust buyer reviews than a company’s advertisement of its own product, employees are more receptive to hearing how their peers have used the values than what the company thinks a value’s implementation might look like.
Applying Values To Individual Roles
Perhaps most importantly, by sharing their experiences, employees can help bring values to life for each other. When a frontline hotel employee describes resolving a guest complaint by applying the value of listening, for instance, that provides a deeper understanding of how that corporate value guides behavior.
Telling the stories of how an organization’s values are used in individual job roles and work situations offers two powerful benefits. It recognizes and acknowledges the storyteller for modeling that behavior, and it helps other employees imagine how that same value could be useful in their own work. This creates a deeper and more complex understanding of the value than can be achieved by simply memorizing a short list of abstract phrases on a poster.
Examples of how actual employees have used values and how they explain those values to others can provide fantastic content for almost any internal communication channel. Here are three formats my own company has used with several clients over the years.
1. Employee Quotes
If you ask six different employees with different job functions, seniority and geography to explain what a specific value means to them, you’ll get six unique and personal responses that can be particularly meaningful for other employees.
We’ve used employee quotes in printed values books and videos and on intranets and career sites. Employees can be surprisingly eloquent when asked to describe their corporate values. These personal accounts often display a level of passion for the values that a corporate voice just can’t match.
2. Employee Spotlights
Some employees may be more comfortable with someone writing about their use of their company’s values rather than telling the story themselves. For many people, it’s simply easier to have someone brag about you than to brag about yourself. We’ve used employee spotlight articles in print and digital internal publications, and they tend to be one of the most highly read articles in any issue.
To identify employees who could be the subjects of such articles, we’ll generally reach out to managers throughout the organization. We treat these articles as profile pieces, making heroes of the individual employees and telling the story of how they’ve applied one of the values in their work. Sometimes we’ll also interview their manager and/or co-workers.
3. Employee Recognition Programs
A peer-to-peer employee recognition program can be another great source for stories about how the company’s values are applied in practical ways in the workplace. The award might focus on a different value each month or each quarter, asking employees to nominate their peers and answer a series of brief questions about how they’ve seen their peers use that value.
Alternatively, you could structure this as a manager-to-employee recognition program, with managers nominating one of the people on their team. People managers, as opposed to the top executive leaders, could provide keen insights into the behavior or actions of the employee that exemplify a specific value.
Showcasing The Real Heroes
Using employee stories to help other employees gain a fuller understanding of the values offers one additional benefit that bears mentioning. The heroes of these stories are the rank-and-file employees, often frontline employees, who are delivering the brand experience to customers every day. Making these employees more visible, and treating them as brand heroes, is one of the best things the internal communications in your company can do.
Interested in having your employees explain the values to their peers? Tribe can help.